A powerful earthquake struck off the Caribbean coast near Honduras this morning, leaving four or more dead on shore, and injuring 40 others.

The magnitude 7.1 earthquake was centered 75 miles north of La Ceiba at 3:24 a.m. this morning (2:24 a.m. eastern time), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Four children are confirmed dead, but Randolfo Funes of Honduras’ civil protection agency told Reuters, “There will be many more dead.”

Honduras will temporarily shut down Puerto Cortes, the port that handles as many as 80 percent of its exports, primarily banana, coffee, coconut, and hardwoods.  And Agence France Presse reports that more than two dozen homes and 10 schools  were destroyed and a bridge spanning the Ulua, Honduras’ largest river, has collapsed.

The earthquake comes four months after a 6.2 magnitude quake killed dozens of residents and stranded tourists in nearby Costa Rica.

To learn more about earthquakes, check out our in-depth report.

Location of May 28, 2009 earthquake in Honduras courtesy U.S. Geological Survey